Voting With Their Feet
by Thomas Sowell
by Thomas Sowell: The
published data from the 2010 census show how people are moving from
place to place within the United States. In general, people are
voting with their feet against places where the liberal, welfare-state
policies favored by the intelligentsia are most deeply entrenched.
When you break
it down by race and ethnicity, it is all too painfully clear what
is happening. Both whites and blacks are leaving California, the
poster state for the liberal, welfare-state and nanny-state philosophy.
also fleeing the big northeastern liberal, welfare states like Massachusetts,
New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as the same kinds
of states in the midwest, such as Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.
has long been a prime destination of Asian immigrants and the homes
of their descendants, the 2010 census shows a striking increase
in the Asian American population of Nevada, more so than any other
state. Nevada is adjacent to California but has no income tax nor
the hostile climate for business that California maintains.
of the black population – especially educated young blacks – is
the most striking of all.
In the past,
the massive movements of millions of blacks out of the South in
the early 20th century was one of the epic migrations of a people
– comparable in size with the millions of the Irish who fled the
famine in Ireland in the 1840s or the millions of Jews who fled
persecution in Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In more recent
decades, blacks have been moving back to the South, however. While
the overall black population of the northeastern and midwestern
states has not declined in the past ten years, except in Michigan
and Illinois, the net increase of the black population nationwide
has increasingly been in the South. About half of the national growth
of the black population took place in the South in the 1970s, two-thirds
in the 1990s and three-quarters in the past 10 years.
While the mass
migrations of blacks out of the South in the early 20th century
was to places where there were already established black communities,
such as New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, much of the current
movement of blacks is away from existing concentrations of black
moving to suburbs, and even to cities like Minneapolis. Overall,
the racial residential segregation patterns are declining in the
great majority of the largest major metropolitan areas.
who moved, the proportions who were in their prime – from 20 to
40 years of age – were greater than in the black population at large,
and college degrees were more common among them than in the black
population at large. In short, with blacks, as with other racial
or ethnic groups, those with better prospects are leaving the states
that are repelling their most productive citizens in general with
perhaps the most striking example of a once thriving city ruined
by years of liberal social policies. Before the ghetto riot of 1967,
Detroit's black population had the highest rate of home-ownership
of any black urban population in the country, and their unemployment
rate was just 3.4 percent.
It was not
despair that fueled the riot. It was the riot which marked the beginning
of the decline of Detroit to its current state of despair. Detroit's
population today is only half of what it once was, and its most
productive people have been the ones who fled.
businesses and affluent people as prey, rather than assets, often
pays off politically in the short run – and elections are held in
the short run. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg is a viable
As whites were
the first to start leaving Detroit, its then mayor Coleman Young
saw this only as an exodus of people who were likely to vote against
him, enhancing his re-election prospects.
But what was
good for Mayor Young was disastrous for Detroit.
There is a
lesson here somewhere, but it is very doubtful if either the intelligentsia
or the politicians will learn it.
Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford
University. His Web site is www.tsowell.com.
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